Patients’ details are well protected

Dear Editor

I am writing in response to Dr John Lockley’s letter, ‘Dr Searle has been wrong about IT geeks’ (GP, 10 November 2006), in which he expressed the view that ‘Choose and Book demographics were not secure’.

This is untrue. Stringent measures are in place which control access to confidential patient information in Choose and Book.

An employee must first be sponsored by their organisation and have their credentials accredited. Only then will they be issued with a smartcard appropriate for their role, which will limit the type of information they can access. 

Access to patient demographics has been designed in consultation with clinicians and information governance experts. NHS Connecting for Health has a robust information governance programme and the Confidentiality Requirements Advisory Group, the Choose and Book National Clinical Reference Panel and the Design Steering Group have agreed the current design.

The national Choose and Book team reviews all system changes with regard to the impact they may have on access to confidential patient data. Any substantive changes to existing policy are subject to information governance review.

The role of Choose and Book in the NHS is now well established and is currently being used for over 32 per cent of all referrals from GP surgery to specialist outpatient care. The usage is increasing nationwide and we are steadily moving towards a position where Choose and Book is usual business.

Dr Mark Davies

Choose and Book primary care medical director, NHS Connecting for Health

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